January 28, 2013

Monday Pep Rally: The Places We Travel

Monday Pep Rally is a weekly feature where the Misfits post a question for you, the reader, to answer. You can answer on your own blog and link in the comments, or just answer here!

There is something about travel that tickles the imagination. Every journey is like a story, allowing you to meet new people, explore others places (especially when you stray off the beaten path!), see the world through different eyes. So for the last couple of years, I've tried to travel as much as possible. Doesn't have to be far--towns nearby, local places, and maybe occasionally the other side of the world.

Twilight over New York, NY
(c) Grufnik. Creative Commons.
And for me, it seems only logical that traveling inspires my writing too. An abandoned playground in London first led me to the premise of my MG WiP, THE SECRETS OF BIRDS. I wrote a good part of my YA epic fantasy PALADIN while camping in a yurt on the moors, and one of the prominent cities featured in the story draws on Edinburgh for inspiration.

But most of all, it inspires the details of a story. The smog of a city that leaves soot under your nails. The local markets that smells of cheese and spices. The rough, cold stone of a ruined castle where people once lived. My deserts are based on the deserts I've seen, the smell of a bazaar on the crowded streets I've walked, the hills on the hills I've wandered. 

Different places, different people, but most of all different eyes. The details--smells, sights, sounds--stood out and made a difference to me, and it's exactly those details that make a story come alive, too.

How about you? Do you have any particular details in your story you can trace back to travel experiences?


Rachel O'Laughlin said...

I love how you put this!

For some reason, I seem to think up an entirely new story every time I go to a completely new place. It's like each setting MUST have its own set of characters and circumstances.

There's also something extremely stimulating about just getting in the car and driving. I've got myself out of so many plot ruts by flying down the road. It cleans my mind up so I can be open to new ideas, even if I'm just driving around on my home turf. It can be even better if hubby is driving and my hands are free to scribble it all down!

Jenny Kaczorowski said...

My nomadic soul loves this. Yes, I always find plot bunnies when I travel. I'm kind of waiting to start my MG for our next trip along the Oregon Coast. And yurt camping on the moors?!? So jealous!

Jae said...

For my current YA, while I was doing the Subway in Zion I was thinking about my WIP. Toward the end my feet were killing me, because the summer had been so blistering hot I hadn't gone for hikes as often as I usually did. But then it made me realize, hey, my main character if he were out hiking, would likely complain of sore feet. It's probably a silly thing, but it's interesting how getting out of your own usual element can inspire you in different ways. I know a lot of my time spent in Japan has had a huge impact on my writing.

Thanks for sharing, good food for thought!

Dahlia Adler said...

I always love the idea of incorporating places I've traveled into mss, but more often than not, I work the other way - I end up writing about a place and then want to go there to see how well I've imagined it! Not ideal by any means! I did go to LA a couple of times around when I wrote BEHIND THE SCENES (which takes place in Hollywood) and I have to admit it helped a lot, so maybe there's something to that strategy....

Gina said...

Absolutely! Kelsey basically retraced my steps in Newport for LYM, and JG is a nod to the Ocean City boardwalk in Maryland. My very first ms took place in California because I'd just been there for my cousin's wedding. Travel is so inspiring to me! One of these days I need to work London into a novel. I know you'd appreciate that :)

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